Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Aiming for Revolutionary Changes in India’s Private Space Sector

By Chaitali Bag

In order to kickstart the fledgling space industry in India, the private sector has been pushing for revolutionary reforms and more transparency regarding foreign direct investment.

To help close the digital divide and bring broadband internet to underserved areas of the nation, the government has decided to use the administrative route for allocating spectrum via satellites. This decision is reflected in the Telecommunications Act that Parliament passed. The industry has warmly welcomed this development.

Indian Space Association (ISpA) and Satcom Industry Association (SIA-India), two industry groups, have urged the government to introduce the Space Activity Bill for parliamentary approval so that the Space Policy, which was unveiled earlier this year, may be legally established.

According to Lt Gen A K Bhatt (retd), Director General of the Indian Space Association (ISpA), “We expect the Space Activity Bill to be discussed in Parliament which will cover various factors of India’s space goals, including insurance in space, international and national obligations, define offences and subsequent punishments, barriers of entry for private companies, liability for damages caused in space,”. This information was shared with PTI by Lt Gen Bhatt.

Lt Gen Bhatt also stated that private enterprises will be allowed to operate and receive financial incentives from large Indian companies if the FDI Policy is implemented.

In its pre-budget memorandum, SIA-India has requested a number of things, including more funding for the Indian Space Research Organisation, tax breaks for R&D, a seven-year extension of the tax holiday for deep tech startups, subsidies for interest rates, financial incentives for universities, and visa programmes for business owners.

The president of SIA-India, Subba Rao Pavuluri, stated that the memorandum’s suggested budget reforms are vital for encouraging innovation, guaranteeing global competitiveness, and scaling new heights in the Indian space sector.

The industry group emphasised the need for a thorough quantitative analysis and breakdown of space economy sectors, similar to what is done by the OECD or the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), before any regulatory or financial stimulus programmes are introduced into the space sector.

The aspirational objectives of developing India’s space odyssey—a moon landing by 2040 and a space station by 2035—are in harmony with the focus on supporting private entities, encouraging youth engagement, and cultivating deep tech entrepreneurs, according to SIA-India.

Also requested were data centres to handle, analyse, and store vast amounts of data generated by space-related endeavours, as well as specific R&D hubs and testing facilities for space technology.

The total capital raised by Indian start-ups has reached 380.25 million dollars so far, according to ISpA’s Lt Gen Bhatt (retd), who announced the award in 2023.

There are already 204 space firms in India, according to Bhatt, with 54 more having developed in the last year alone.

Industry experts predict that India’s private space sector will become 10% of the world’s space economy by 2040, up from its current 2%.

With the recent passage of the Indian Space Policy and India’s daring decision to liberalize its space sector in 2020, the private space industry in India is witnessing an unprecedented expansion, driven by the aspirations of several companies.

The number of space companies in India has increased threefold in the past year, reaching 190, according to the Deloitte consultancy. Exploration, creativity, and the pursuit of space-related pursuits characterize this new age, and these vibrant endeavours herald it.

According to a recent announcement by Union Minister Jitendra Singh, Indian space entrepreneurs have managed to secure private investments totaling more than ₹1,000 crore since April of this year.

The minister emphasized the sector’s growth, mentioning that there have been 1,080 space startups, which is a significant increase from the single digits even a few years ago. With only one company in the space industry in 2014, it’s clear that the field has experienced incredible growth and diversity in such a short amount of time.

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